F. P. Journe
Tourbillon Souverain | brass movement | 38mm platinum
F. P. Journe
Tourbillon Souverain | brass movement | 38mm platinum
This F.P. Journe Tourbillon Souverain is one of the first sixty five wristwatches to have been made and sold by Francois-Paul Journe, after the first twenty - known as Souscription Tourbillons - were initially offered to friends and clients through a subscription system. With most of the pieces produced between 2001 and 2003, this Tourbillon Souverain from 1999 features a range of distinctive characteristics, only found on the earliest of examples.
The dawn of Montres Journe
Prior to launching his own brand, Francois-Paul Journe had already proven his skill as a talented watchmaker. Having spent time restoring clocks and pocket watches from the likes of Janvier and Breguet, he had also completed complex commissions for Asprey and Cartier, among others. In his own time, the young watchmaker had also already assembled a pocket watch integrating a tourbillon, by following the writings of Dr. George Daniels, as well as a handful of prototype wristwatches integrating a tourbillon and remontoir d’égalité systems. However, Monsieur Journe had not yet established his own brand, lacking the capital to do so.
One day, while out to lunch, his friend Camille Berthet suggested a subscription model. The idea was simple; a few trusting clients would have put the money forward for a watch that was yet to be made. In exchange for this good faith, they would receive a 50% reduction on its retail value, allowing the watchmaker to raise just enough money to start the production of pieces under his own eponymous brand. The project behind the Souscription Tourbillon was born, with twenty close clients and friends of the watchmaker committing a deposit, sight unseen. These early wristwatches became the foundation of the F.P. Journe manufacture we know today.
The early works of the watchmaker reflect upon these experiences - and his mastery is evident in both the look and feel of his craftsmanship. They effortlessly blend his intimate knowledge of mechanics gained through restoring 18th and 19th century marine chronometers and pocket watches, with modern haute horological finesse.
The Tourbillon Souverain
The Tourbillon Souverain was the very first production wristwatch from Montres Journe, originally made between 1999 and 2003, with a remontoir d’egalité, rather than a dead-seconds complication. This example, represents the third generation of the Journe Tourbillon, produced between 1999 and 2001, with this early piece featuring the engraving ’99T’ on the caseback. It is one of few pieces that capture the Toubillon’s original, inspired design, representing the first period of the manufacture’s history, and to some, the first brush strokes of the watchmaker.
In 2004, Journe began manufacturing movements from 18-carat gold, having developed the brand sufficiently to further the manufacturing process. Interestingly, it is Journe's earlier brass-movement pieces that command more interest from collectors. It is estimated that, across all lines, approximately only 2,000 brass-movements were ever produced, and among these, only 24 to 44 third-generation Tourbillon Souverains were created, during a scarce period of manufacture. Brass-movement F. P Journe pieces are therefore highly sought-after, owing to their rarity and unique place in the brand’s history.
A transitional design
The yellow gold dial is wonderfully textured, and displays a separate silver guilloché sub-dial for the hours and minutes. The words ‘Invenit et Fecit’ are inscribed below the tourbillon (Latin for ‘Invented and Made’ or more literally 'Designed and built by F.P. Journe') in classic F.P. Journe style. The dial layout reinforces this artisanal spirit, with exposed screws and stark, contrasting surfaces. This aesthetic was honed by Francois-Paul Journe during the creation of the prototypes building up to the Souscription, which had the sub-dials screwed directly onto the base plate of the movement, made of traditional gold-plated brass. At twelve o’clock, a power reserve indicator of 42 hours is displayed.
With a striking, mirror-like reflective surface and textured finish (unlike most third-generation dials, which are known to be more subdued), this early example exhibits an intensity more typically associated with the first Souscription models. The earliest dials were hand-finished, leaving behind evidence of the watchmaker's hand on the surface, barely visible at an angle.
More noticeably, these early dials also feature a layer of clear lacquer, giving them a distinctively shinier surface, along with the impression that the text on the dial floats above it. Furthermore, most third-generation dials have noticeably lighter subdials, compared with previous iterations, whereas this example displays the earlier two-tone subdial, with a silver outer minute track and subtle, off-white guilloché pattern in the centre.
The one-second remontoir d'egalité system is displayed through a small aperture on the dial side, providing constant force to the escapement, by acting as a transmission and balancing system for the transfer of power between the mainspring and the escapement.
The watch is housed in a 38mm platinum case, integrating F.P. Journe’s signature 'flat crown’ with a rope-like pattern. The serial number is engraved just beside the crown in the “XX-99T” format. The engravings are noticeably shallower than those found on later examples, having been applied by hand - a feature also found on the Souscription Tourbillon.
The manual-winding, F.P. Journe caliber 1498 tourbillon movement is rhodium-plated brass, with Côtes de Genève, constructed with 25 jewels and a shock-absorber mechanism. It further features a straight-line lever escapement, and monometallic 4-arm balance with 4 timing weights, adjusted to 5 positions. It includes a self-compensating free-sprung flat balance spring. The movement is engraved 'Chronometre A Tourbillon' and 'Remontoir d'egalité'.
The watch comes on our Geneva nubuck leather straps (measuring 20 x 19mm). It's also accompanied by its original, early style small F.P. Journe inner and outer boxes, stamped guarantee card and Tourbillon Souverain instruction booklet, making it a complete early set.
As an important piece in the history of the brand and a testament to the watchmaker behind it, we feel fortunate to be able to present this piece, together with the early Souscription Résonance, to play a role in sharing their story.
To find out more about François-Paul Journe and his early pieces, you can read our Collector's Guide to early F.P. Journe.
|Brand:||F. P. Journe|
|Movement:||mechanical manual-winding brass movement calibre 1498 with one-second remontoir d'egalité|
|Functions:||tourbillon, hours, minutes, sub-seconds|
|Features:||shimmery gold dial, guilloché hours&mins sub-dial, blue steel hands, display-back, power-reserve display|
|Case:||38 mm platinum|
|Crystal:||sapphire front and display-back|
|Strap:||Geneva 20x19 curved nubuck leather strap, F.P. Journe alligator strap with platinum tang buckle|
|Year of production:||1999 (sold in the summer of 2000)|
|Box & papers:||outer box, inner wooden box, warranty card and instruction booklet|
First sold to the American market, this early Tourbillion Souverain from 1999 is accompanied by its original outer box, inner small wooden box, manual and stamped Guarantee Card (dated 2000). Overall, this example is well-preserved, with some light marks visible on the case throughout, having been last serviced in 2015, with a slight polish given at the Paris boutique in 2016.
The yellow gold dial is extremely well preserved, displaying an important level of intensity, reflection and shimmer, most commonly associated with the earliest pieces from the watchmaker. It also shows relatively consistent oxidisation throughout, with a soft, warm hue. Small hairline scratches are visible on the surface of the dial, resulting from the technique used to achieve the textured finish by hand.
Though it is keeping perfect time and all the functions work properly, since the watch hasn’t been serviced in over 5 years, it is offered with a complimentary service from F.P. Journe, organised through the Paris boutique. It is guaranteed for authenticity from A Collected Man.
Please note, owing to the value of this watch, payment may only be by bank transfer and returns will not be accepted. This is an express deviation from out standard return policy below and as found in our terms and conditions. Shipment will be with Ferrari Express.
Owing to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, in-person viewings have been suspended, but should you require further images or video inspection over zoom, we would be happy to facilitate this.
All of our pre-owned watches have undergone thorough mechanical inspections, including being ultrasonically cleaned, serviced and resealed if appropriate and tested for at least four days, to ensure they meet our highest timekeeping standards. Our pre-owned and vintage watches, unless stated otherwise, are covered by a full or a limited twenty-four month warranty. For example, due to their age, some vintage watches should not be subjected to the same conditions as when they were new. Please see our Terms & Conditions for further information.
All of our new watches are covered by the warranty from the original manufacturer. Please contact us for further information.
We offer worldwide delivery on all of our watches.
If ordering from the UK or Europe before 1 PM, your watch will be sent the same working day. The courier will depend on the value of the watch, with all watches delivered the next working day.
If ordering from outside Europe, delivery will depend on choice of courier and destination.
Please note, that prices are quoted gross of VAT (unless expressly stated otherwise) and that preowned goods (in the United Kingdom) are subject to a marginal rate of VAT, which can not be reclaimed. For further information, please see here.
You can cancel your order without giving any reason, within 14 days from the day the watch has been delivered to you.